Robert Preston, 1st Viscount Gormanston

Robert Preston, 1st Viscount Gormanston (1435–1503) was an Irish peer and statesman of the fifteenth century who held the offices of Deputy to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland and Lord Deputy of Ireland.


He was the son of Christopher Preston, 3rd Baron Gormanston and Jane d'Artois: his mother was the daughter of Sir Jenico d'Artois and his first wife Joan Taffe. Her father was a soldier from Gascony who had entered the English royal service in the 1390s and who later became a substantial landowner in Ireland, (hence the unusual boy's name Jenico, which became common in later generations of the Preston family).[1] Robert succeeded his father as 4th Baron Gormanston in 1450; his mother later remarried Giles Thorndon, formerly Lord Treasurer of Ireland.[2]

Robert had close ties to Rowland FitzEustace, 1st Baron Portlester, who married his cousin, Marguerite d'Artois, and became allied to Portlester's son-in-law, the 8th or "Great Earl" of Kildare. With Lord Portlester, he was one of the original Companions of the Brotherhood of Saint George, a short lived military guild designed for the defence of the Pale.


In 1460, during the brief period when Richard of York controlled the royal government in the name of Henry VI, the office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland was held by John Dynham, 1st Baron Dynham, and Preston was appointed his deputy. The Parliament of Ireland passed acts in 1460 and 1462 restoring Gormanston's alleged precedence over David Fleming, Baron Slane, but their dispute dragged on until 1478, when Gormanston was raised to the degree of viscount.[3][4] The following year Edward IV appointed his second son Richard, who was only four years old, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Gormanston was appointed Lord Deputy.[5]

After the downfall of the House of York, Gormanston, like most of the Anglo-Irish nobility, supported the claims of the pretender to the Crown, Lambert Simnel against the new Tudor dynasty . Simnel's cause was decisively crushed at the Battle of Stoke Field in 1487. Like nearly all of his peers Gormanston was pardoned for this act of treason in 1488 and restored to favour. In 1493 Henry VII reappointed him Lord Deputy: he held a Parliament at Drogheda, and a council at Trim, attended by Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare and most other leading Anglo-Irish magnates, where Gormanston bound them all over to keep the peace.[6] The council does not seem to have produced any useful results: soon afterwards Gormanston, Kildare and other nobles were summoned to England to account for their governance of Ireland. Gormanston died in May 1503.


Robert Preston married Janet Molyneaux, daughter of Sir Richard Molyneaux of Sefton. They had at least four children:


  1. Journal of the Co. Kildare Archeological Society 1902
  2. Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society 1902
  3. Richardson, H. G. (October 1943). "The Irish Parliament Rolls of the Fifteenth Century". The English Historical Review. Oxford University Press. 58 (232): 448–461: 456. JSTOR 553673.
  4. Betham, William (1834). "Henry VI". The origin and history of the constitution of England, and of the early parliaments of Ireland. Dublin: William Curry. pp. 368–375.
  5. Otway-Ruthven J.A. A History of Medieval Ireland Barnes and Noble reissue 1993
  6. Otway-Ruthven History of Medieval Ireland
  7. Burke's Complete Peerage
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